Anaïs Nin says:


” Sensuality for her is not only a wave of pleasure in which she is bathed, and a charge of electric joy at contact with another. “


Getting The Buzz

a12As I’ve been saying incessantly……

and as many posts on
the Muscleheaded Blog
have definitively shown —

Real history
can seem
so unlikely to us
in the present day

I mean,
the phrase
believe it or notvibr2
applies more times
than I can count.

My friend sent me a picture
of a vintage vibrator
that she saw at a garage sale…..

(She didn’t say
whether she bought it,
or not……  😀 )

And, of course,

it got me thinking —

Just how old
are these gadgets, anyway?

aidsThe answer might
just surprise you.

Back in merry old
19th century England,
when female orgasms
were considered impossible,

Doctors were treating
a condition called ‘hysteria’ —
a common enough complaint,
— as one would imagine,
among frustrated
Victorian women.

They would manually
manipulate their client’s vibr3
nether regions,
until relief was obtained.

one never knows what
other manipulation was used,
but manually was the
common treatment.

A certain London Doctor
named Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville,
(now, that’s a name to conjure with)
was relieving so much
of his patient’s tension,
that he was actually every
getting hand cramps.

Talk about suffering
for your profession, huh?

how he chose
to resolve the issue,
and how you
or I would do it,
star…. well,
never mind all that now.

he had a friend,
Edmund St. John Smythe,
who was a wealthy inventor
with a big ole mansion,
and servants, and stuff.

Smythe had just invented
the electric feather duster,
of all things….

smileOne would think,
it might put a smile
on the face of his maids
and housekeeping staff,

but it was hardly
cutting edge,

Granville knew just how
to put that thing to better use.vibr1

And it didn’t take long
for the buzz
to get around town,
about Dr. Granville’s
new treatment device —
— called “Granville’s Hammer.”

Hooo boy, where are
the marketing boys
when you need them, huh?

It didn’t matter,
though —

hairIn a matter of months,
the device became as popular
as extra-large panty hose
at a Divine look alike convention.

Soon, there were
over 200 companies
in the United States and Britain
making the machines…

Many of them hubby
also made blenders,
electric knives,
and hair dryers.

Hence the weirdly
familiar look
of some models.

Although originally,
they were rather
large and bulky affairs…rollitin

They soon evolved into
self contained hand held devices,
and were widely available
in both battery powered,
and plug in varieties —

with any and every sort
of attachment available.

Sears sold several models
in their 1907 catalog.

They were rather expensive
as far as household gadgets go,
(about 200 dollars
in today’s money)polar

but I’m thinking,
they were probably
well worth the money.

I mean,
remember, no TV.
An evening’s entertainment
might have been
pretty tame, otherwise.handcrank

And if you didn’t have
electricity laid on, yet —
(pun completely intentional)
there were even
D.I.Y. units…..

Actually, one can find
a bewildering assortment
of vintage vibrators
and crazy advertising bibe
making claims for them,

that range from true,
to very,
very unlikely.

Will it relieve spasms and pain?
Sure, perhaps.

Will it give you the will to faceill
another day in Victorian Age Britain?
Yeah, maybe.

Will it make you live longer
and regain your health magically?
Probably not.

And if you happened to take
one of these things
in the tub with you,
…. like so many people
did over the years…..

It might bring your frustrations
to a rather abrupt end.




Are You Reddy ??

1 Remember this little guy?

……… well, just in case you don’t, lemme introduce ya.

His name is Reddy Kilowatt, and for about six decades –

From the 20’s onwards, he was the spokes-person —

errrrr, I mean…..

…… spokes-cartoon ….

….. for the electric companies in the United States.

Electrification was by no mean universal back then,
— over 70% of the country did not have electrical service when Reddy Kilowatt came into being ….

As service expanded into rural areas,
Reddy served as a way of making electricity more … approachable..
if you will,
to those who didn’t have electrical service in their homes.

Believe it or not,

and it wasn’t all that long ago,

that some folks took an awful lot of convincing—

before they were willing to have electricity “laid on”…..3

…… they had done quite well without it,
and many felt that electricity was a needless expense,
as well as a potential hazard.

Houses that were to have electricity ‘laid on’
would have to be wired,
gas fixtures removed,
and codes met —

—- which meant a cash outlay for homeowners–2

Reddy Kilowatt was a way of humanizing the electric utility,
and convincing them that the investment would save them money,
and improve their lives in the long run.

Most of the original appeal for electricity was to run household lighting —

…. but as more and more appliances were developed using it,
the electric companies wanted very badly to send the message that electricity was cheap and plentiful.

4Actually for a time in the late 40’s and early 50’s, some power companies used the slogan: “Too Cheap to Meter”

— to express this concept of electricity being cheaper than other fuel sources.

In areas where the regional electrification programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority were buying out whole towns and putting people off their lands–

In the Carolinas, for instance, 7
Lake Wateree,
and Lake Norman,
are examples of electrification projects that absolutely changed the social as well as topographical landscape.

During one recent dry period,
I noticed a remnants of a church steeple sticking up in the middle of Lake Wateree —

— it had been flooded by the Electric Authority so fast in the 1920’s,
that no one had time to take the structure down first.

So you can imagine the culture shock electrification really was.

5…. literature, posters, calendars and the like- featuring Reddy Kilowatt- were distributed to reassure people that the sacrifices they were making were worth it.

I guess you could call it propaganda–

— changing peoples minds one image at a time.


Highly collectible today,
items with Reddy’s image could, at one time, be found most anywhere–


…. on most anything.

Matchbooks, coloring books, pins, hats, signs, records……6

And even lightbulbs.

why not…

………. seems pretty natural at that.

“Electricity is penny cheap “ was the slogan on this paper weight.

There were also dishes,
light switch covers,
cookie cutters, 8
and nick nacks of every persuasion.

and everything that have a logo on it —-


Sure ….

……. one for every day of the year.

And Cookbooks.


Reddy even got involved in fighting the “Red Menace” —

by ‘participating’ in disseminating several pieces of anti-communist propaganda……


For your own good,
of course.

Of course, electric companies had much to gain from keeping their organizations ‘for-profit’, and not publically owned.

They were even successful in keeping price regulation out for many years.

As with just about any human enterprise,
the potential profits generated a drive toward electrification that ended up having both good and bad effects —
depending on your perspective.

And the electric companies wanted very much to control that perspective as much as possible.

My personal favorite piece of Reddy Kilowatt collectible is this clock —
…. once more selling the idea of electricity as something no home could, or should, do without.

It had an interesting ‘glowing’ quality from the offset design of the interior lighting fixture..

The combination of the twenties style lettering,
the Reddy logo,
and the “Cook Electrically” legend makes for a very interesting collector piece.

I really do dig it.

9cThe high point in Reddy’s career came at the 1964 New York World’s Fair –

and the “Tower of Light”.

This postcard features Reddy Kilowatt and the Tower.

It reads:

Reddy Kilowatt says:
“At the New York World’s Fair, the Tower of Light is the world’s most brilliant welcome light.
“A Total Electric Gold Medallion Home is the world’s most modern home –
— it’s as clean as electric light itself.
See your local electric utility company for complete information”

Yes, Reddy was everywhere.9d

He wuz BIG.

Alas, his image is no longer seen everywhere …..

……. anywhere …..

Gone from the billboards, gone from the cookware, gone from the advertising, gone from even the kitsch.

And, the last time I was in Albuquerque ………..

It didn’t look nuthin like that, anymore………

…. never mind the cool Public Service Electric sign still being there.reddya

( The old giant Reddy Kilowatt neon sign is on the right in the postcard, under the “Public Service Company of New Mexico”-  from 1954 )

Looking back now, it’s actually amazing that such a ubiquitous character as Reddy Kilowatt should have disappeared almost completely from our national consciousness within a span of only about 30 years.

You figure with all the junk that was made with his image,
…………… he’d still be as famous as the Beatles.

Oh sorry —

…… you didn’t know Paul McCartney was in a band, did ya?